It all comes down to clarifying your identity. You are already present. So there is no need to look for a future state, experience or attainment. What you are seeking to know is not separate or distant, since it is your own self. What you are must be always with you. Anything which appears and disappears cannot, by definition, be what you are. Thoughts, feelings, perceptions, experiences, objects these all come and go. None of them as such can be the essence of what you are. So set those aside and continue to look into your true nature. What is left to consider? Surprisingly little!
However, you are still present. You are still aware. Look at this presence of awareness itself. Having discarded all else, this is the only possible remainder and must be what you are. Your existence is beyond any doubt, and what you are is brightly aware. You are that knowing presence which is registering all thoughts, feelings and experiences. Look directly into this. This is the heart of the matter.
Notice that thoughts arise and set, but this presence, your own natural being remains constant. There is no need to wait for the future to see this, nor is there any need for a special practice, technique or approach simply because it is already present. You do not need to make an effort to be present and aware. It is completely natural and effortless. Look now and notice that what you are and the sense of presence-awareness are not two different things. You are that which is present and aware. Many words are used to point to this essential nature: presence, awareness, consciousness, life, spirit, emptiness, being, God, oneness and so on. These are all simply pointers. And what they are pointing to is your true nature nothing more or less.
The body and mind may suffer experiences, yet awareness, your natural being, remains unaffected and uncompromised, just like the sun ever shining beyond the clouds and utterly untouched by them. Your true nature has no suffering, doubts or problems at all. See all this and you will find that your true nature is ever-present awareness, changeless being and undisturbed freedom and peace itself. These are additional pointers to the same wordless, immediate presence of your true nature.
You are not a limited, defective person, self or entity. This false belief is at the root of all seeking, suffering, doubts and problems in life. Those experiences are only creations of conceptual thought. Those concepts hinge on the imagined person who is assumed to be separate from oneness. So all thoughts of a suffering nature concern the identity, attributes and condition of a person to whom they are assumed to apply. Interest in the thoughts is sustained by the belief that we are that limited person, or separate self.
The person to whom those thoughts and stories pertain is the central 'I thought', ego or person that we have assumed to be present and real. This is the `lynch pin' of the whole production. All the self-centered concepts, beliefs and habits of mind are sustained by the belief in the presence of this person. That is why a very effective approach is simply to investigate the reality of this assumed person.
Were is the person? Is it it real? Did you ever find it? For example, in any given moment there may be a few thoughts, feelings or sensations appearing. Do any of those constitute a person, a separate self? They are simply momentary objects appearing and disappearing in present awareness. How could they be a substantial self or independent person? If you set those aside and continue to investigate, you will find that there is nothing else present at all to investigate!
All there is, is wide open, clear, obvious presence-awareness itself. And that is not a limited person or entity. The conclusion must be that the person that we have taken ourselves to be is a complete myth because it is not findable in direct experience. And if it does not exist now, then it never existed in the past, nor will it ever exist in the future.
If the person is discovered as not real, not present, a mere unexamined assumption, then the root of all self-centered, conceptual thoughts, beliefs, habits, and attachments is severed. With this recognition, the interest in the self-centered stories fades naturally and effortlessly because there is no more belief in the reality of the central concept, the person. The thoughts and beliefs unwind and scatter like autumn leaves in the wind. There is no more belief in the fixed reference point of a self or a central character.
You simply remain as the open sky of awareness in which all thoughts arise and set untouched, spacious, clear and always unmodified. The tendency to fixate on or attach to thoughts dissipates. Seeing this, you cannot believe in self-centered thoughts, even if you want to, because the basic misconception has been undermined. You do not seek water in a mirage once it is known to be a mirage.
What about the nature of the world, the universe that presents itself to us? All that we can know is what appears to us in immediate experience. And that which appears (whether it be a thought, feeling, perception or any other experience) has no separate and independent existence apart from the awareness which cognizes it. Since awareness and objects always appear together, they must be the same in essence.
How many thoughts, feelings or perceptions can you have outside of awareness? They are inseparable. Everything that appears arises from, exists upon and returns into awareness. Even time, space and seeming external objects are present experiences contained in your knowing presence. There is nothing separate and apart from this ever. In fact, there is just this only this inescapable presence-awareness. You are that.
How do we live and function in the world? This is a false question because, as we have already seen, there is no one present who can live or function! At a practical level, all thoughts, feelings and actions go on without any reference to an imagined self-center or person. 'I' am not thinking, feeling, sensing, experiencing or acting because there is no 'I' present to do those things. Look at your thoughts right now. Is there an 'I' creating them? Or are they simply arising spontaneously? Surely the latter is the case. Do you have any idea what the next thought will be? If not, how can you say you created it?
If you say you are choosing, creating or controlling your thoughts, then why would you ever create an unhappy or troubling thought? So you see that thoughts simply appear. There is no person or self involved at all. The same goes for choices, decisions, feelings and actions. It is all happening spontaneously. So the question `How will I live my life?' is unnecessary. There is no 'you' to do anything at all. Things simply come up to be done. Life and its activities arise spontaneously and effortlessly from moment to moment in response to the demands of the situation and circumstances.
You can see all of these things directly, No special insight, awakening or enlightenment is needed. What is being pointed to is the natural condition of what is. We may have overlooked this, but it is not difficult to see. How could it be, when it is shining here in plain view? However, if necessary, you can review the basic points covered above and confirm them for yourself. Then the simple truth of your present natural state stands out very dearly right now. Before the next thought or experience appears you are already that natural and uncontrived presence-awareness itself.
... You Were Never Born ...
- John Wheeler -